Starring: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell
Directed by: Asger Leth (debut)
Written by: Pablo Fenjeves (debut)
There is something fascinating about seeing dramatic and life-altering events play themselves out in front of the public eye. It is why traffic gets backed up when there’s an accident on the highway or why crowds of people flock when police or fire trucks show up somewhere. As Nick Cassady (Sam Worthington) stands perched on the ledge of a hotel room, it is clear that he is trying to rile the crowd up for motives unknown to those trying to help (or in the crowd’s case, encourage) him. While this perilous setup doesn’t leave the movie completely devoid of entertainment value, poor acting, lame dialogue, and a lack of creativity plague the appropriately titled “Man on a Ledge.”
As prison escapee Nick Cassady arrives at his hotel, he writes a note and steps out onto a ledge high above New York City. Claiming he is innocent of the diamond theft he was putting prison for, he threatens to jump unless he gets police officer Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) there to talk to him. As he is up on the ledge manipulating Mercer and entertaining the crowd below, he is in contact with his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and his girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) via earpiece as they attempt to commit a crime to prove his innocence.
Worthington, sporting a Kenny Powers style near-mullet, turns in yet another robotic performance. Not only is he completely dull, but his Australian accent randomly rears its head throughout the film. While Banks is great at many things, she fails to pull off the role of a cop convincingly. There is something about her cadence that is distracting and can’t be taken seriously in this type of setup. In fact, Bellis the only actor who plays his role well. There are too many supporting performances in the film that are hokey and trite. Ed Harris (“History of Violence”) is the typical bad guy, the other cops in the film have the familiar cop attitude and use ridiculous lingo, and Rodriguez plays the annoyingly played-out stereotypical “fiery Latina,” hurling out insults in Spanish when she gets worked up.
There is a sense throughout “Man on a Ledge” that these are all things that have been done before. There is a recycled heist gag straight out of “Mission: Impossible 3,” the cop cars and crowds surrounding a suspicious hostage situation in New York City evokes “Phone Booth,” and the cop/criminal conversations and general themes of “Inside Man” can be found as well. When mixed in with a script chock full of cheesy conversations, the end result is a film that feels very redundant.
Despite the film’s shortcomings, “Man on a Ledge” unfolds rather briskly and is never boring. While most of the film’s far-fetched logic can be overlooked for the sake of entertainment, the ending of the film is so absurd that even the most open-minded filmgoer will react incredulously. There are certainly worse movies than “Man on a Ledge,” but the film is overall stifled by its lack of originality and corniness.